Status Update: Smallman and #ExtendPenn Progress

Rendering of Smallman St. looking west from 21st. St.
Rendering of Smallman St. looking west from 21st. St.

Smallman Background

Due to a number of factors including a strong desire to create a more walkable Smallman St, the City began the process of redesigning an incredibly wide segment of the road, between 16th and 21st Streets.

The preliminary designs of the “Smallman Street Improvement Project,” introduced last spring, did not include any bike facilities, nor plan for them within the neighborhood, despite Pittsburgh having a Complete Streets Policy and a protected bike lane on Penn Ave that ends at 16th St. This policy requires our streets to be planned and designed for safe travel and access for all users regardless of age, ability, and mode of transportation.

In response, Bike Pittsburgh launched the #ExtendPenn campaign where we collected and delivered over 2,000 signatures in support of figuring out how to connect the bike infrastructure to the eastern neighborhoods.

Thanks to the passionate residents and advocates who spoke out at public meetings, volunteered, signed petitions, and wrote letters to the editor, we will soon see bike lanes installed as part of a redesign of Smallman Street in the Strip District.

Smallman Update: What we know

On February 6, 2019, the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure held a public meeting to present the next stage of engineering designs and collect feedback for before the designs are finalized sometime in early spring. The scope of this project will include a repaving and updated surface design between 16th Street and 21st Street.

Smallman St. Design Rendering

The design includes pedestrian infrastructure, bike lanes, angled back-in parking, flex-time loading zones, trees, flex space for events, and lighting. Expanded crosswalks will be added to the intersection at 17th Street, 18th Street, 20th Street, and 21st. Street.

Bike lanes will be placed along the back-in angled parking, next to the vehicle travel lane. At 21st street a large plaza area will be created that can be used as flex space for events, eating, and daily activities. The Produce Terminal side of the street will also be getting a sidewalk with accessible ramps and entrances to the building.

Plans for traffic during loading/unload time.

Traffic calming measures include lane width restriction, added bike lanes, angled parking, and highly visible cross walks. However, there are no current plans to add stop signs, signalized pedestrian crossings, or traffic signals.

What we don’t know

We don’t have a status update on the plans for the Strip District west of 16th Street and east of 21st Street. Right now, the connection to the Penn Avenue bike lane also remains vague.

However, the City has identified both planning and construction money, and will begin the planning process for the connection to Penn Avenue, and the overall bike, transit, pedestrian, and parking issues in the Strip District within the next month or so. The scope of the study will look at the Strip District to 31st Street.

What’s Next?

According to the project schedule, designs will be finalized in May 2019. They will be looking to start the repaving in September with a pause for the holiday shopping season. You can still submit your questions and comments about the project to the Project Manager, Emily Gaspich at

It remains to be seen what will come out of the Strip District Study and what it will mean in our efforts to #ExtendPenn and make a safe, easy connection for bike lanes further east.

Stay tuned and stay involved!

Stay tuned for future public meetings, project updates, advocacy efforts and ways to get involved.

The results show that it is important to show up to public meetings, be vocal, and state your case. Your presence at future meetings will be even more important as we push toward the more difficult, yet ultimate goal of securing the connection between 21st St and the eastern neighborhoods.

Please join our #ExtendPenn email list and stay connected:

1 Comment

  • SeedySailor says:

    An awesome improvement to be sure. But one sticking point with me, if you’re redesigning the whole space, then why stick the parking across the bike lanes?

    You’re asking for there to be incidents with parked cars suddenly pulling out in front of bikes. Or delivery drivers constantly blocking the lanes.

    If you’re adding so many planters and other furniture, set the parking by the driving lanes, and then a row of furniture, and then the bike lanes. This way it stops deliveries & cabs from blocking the lane, and nearly eliminates the biker interaction with parking cars.

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